By Alec Sharp (Palmetto Prepper)
Before you turn even the first grain of dirt in your backyard garden you have to start with a plan. What are you going to grow? How are you going to arrange your plants? How are you going to combat the pest that will try to eat your garden before your first harvest?
The most important part of planning is deciding what kind of seeds you are going to plant. There are two varieties to choose from, either the modern hybrid varieties or heirlooms. Hybrids are created by crossing two selected varieties, sometimes resulting in vigorous plants that yield more that there heirloom kin. Heirloom vegetables are old-time varieties that are handed down through multiple generations. Heirloom seeds usually cost less than hybrids, but that is not the only reason to choose them.
Lots of breeding programs for modern hybrid seeds have sacrificed taste for production. I have grown modern tomatoes that have produced pound after pound of tasteless fruit that has left me sadly disappointed. But the next year I planted the same heirloom tomato that my grandmother has been planting for years with much better results. The heirloom did not produce the same quantity of fruit but the superior taste more than made up for the loss of production.
It is also believed that the newer hybrid seeds have lost some, if not much, of the nutritional value that the older heirloom vegetables have been providing us for years. It would appear that the breeders of the modern hybrid seeds have been more concerned with production than nutritional value.
As a prepper I prefer heirloom vegetables because they are open-pollinated, which means you can save your seeds. If you save seeds from heirloom vegetables you can replant them next year and be assured that next year’s plant will be just like this year’s plant. However, if you plant seeds saved from hybrid plants you never know what you might get. They may be like their parent plant or they may be quite different.
Another quality is that heirlooms don’t all ripen at the same time. Many commercial growers like hybrids because they all ripen in one fail swoop, however this is not optimum for back yard gardens. As a back yard grower I prefer to have ripened vegetables stretched over a period of time so I can enjoy my fresh harvest over several weeks.
Lastly, I can save seeds from only the best plants and use those to grow next year’s garden. I can then share those seeds with my family and friends. I can get my grandchildren involved in my backyard garden and teach them how to save only seeds from the strongest most productive plants for the next year. We can make memories together growing tasty and nutritious vegetables. When the grand kids get older I can then share my heirloom seeds with them and they will have lots of fun stories to share with their kids as they plant our family heirloom seeds in a garden of their own.
There are several ways to get high quality heirlooms seeds. One of my favorite ways is by trading seeds with other local gardeners. However, if I have to order seeds I usually get them from Bakers Creek Seed Company or the Seed Savers Exchange. Good luck and happy gardening!